Williams was just 8 when he made his professional singing debut with the Williams Brothers Quartet. The brothers were regular performers on radio station WHO's "Iowa's Barn Dance Show" in Des Moines. Their popularity grew, taking the brothers to national stations, including WLS in Chicago and WLW in Cincinnati.
Doris Day was his friend when they were both young and living in Cincinnati.
"He and his brothers sang and, of course, so did I, and often I would go over to their house and we would sing together," Day said Wednesday. "They asked me to join their group, but my vocal coach thought I should be out on my own, and so that's what I did."
Smokey Robinson said Williams "befriended me when I was just a teenager starting out in show business, and we remained friends throughout the years."
"I regret that we didn't have the chance to spend more time together," Robinson said. "He was one of the great voices and great people of our time."